Free Markets, Free People

Bruce McQuain

This should anger and terrify any freedom loving person

This is just something that shouldn’t be “discussed” at all, much less “discussed” by law enforcement:

During Lynch’s testimony at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said that he believes there are similarities between the tobacco industry denying scientific studies showing the dangers of using tobacco and companies within the fossil fuel industry denying studies allegedly showing the threat of carbon emissions…

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)… concluded his comments by posing a question to the country’s top law enforcement officer.

“My question to you is, other than civil forfeitures and matters attendant to a criminal case, are there other circumstances in which a civil matter under the authority of the Department of Justice has been referred to the FBI?” he asked.

“This matter has been discussed. We have received information about it and have referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action on,” Lynch answered. “I’m not aware of a civil referral at this time.”

Seriously?  As flawed as the data is and as broken as the models have been shown to be, there is certainly nothing “settled” about anything to do with “global warming” or carbon.  Nothing.

But that’s not the point is it?  This is about shutting up dissent.  And why would anyone want to shut up dissent?  Well, frankly, for the usual reasons – power and control.  You have a group of true believers (or at least those who claim to be) who have positions of power and want to use it to control how you live your life.  They’ve been looking for a way for quite some time and have finally, thanks to Al Gore and the boys, found what they believe is a fail-safe way to kite more money from taxpayers and “evil corporations” and they can’t stand to have a group out there shooting their “science” in the keister with facts.  The “electricity rates are going to jump under my plan” ideologues aren’t going to pass up this chance to cripple the fossil fuel industry and they have just the pseudo-science with which to do it if they can shut these dissenters up.

Thus a US Congressman questioning the nation’s chief law enforcement officer about whether or not that officer is discussing means and  methods of doing just that.  If every anyone deserved to be impeached and thrown out of Congress, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is the candidate of choice in my estimation.  And to be Number 1, you have to be pretty damn bad (we could instead settle for a little tar and feathers and running him out of town, I suppose).  As I see it, any call to quash dissent by a government official acting in his official capacity is grounds for removal – unless you’re in Communist China, perhaps.

Power and control.  That’s what this is all and it is why there is anger and frustration on both sides of the political spectrum.  People have had it with both sides.

~McQ

News you might otherwise miss

Because, you know, the current political circus has sucked all the air out of the coverage of anything else … or maybe it has distracted everyone so much they aren’t paying attention. But this story is one that is and has been inevitable since the debacle of Obamacare was passed and instituted:

Federal health officials are seeking to deny medical reimbursements to doctors and hospitals that have served patients insured by failed Obamacare health insurance co-ops, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.

Instead, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are insisting it, not medical providers, has the first right to any remaining funds as 12 of the 24 co-ops go through the liquidation process.

A legal showdown is expected over who pays for the co-op debacle that to date has lost at least $1.4 billion in federal solvency loans. The failures have forced the cancellation of health insurance policies for at least 800,000 customers.

The confrontation now pits medical providers against CMS bureaucrats who claim the federal government should be first in line to get any leftover funds.

The government’s plan has failed, those who trusted the government to implement it properly so they’d be reimbursed have been stiffed, and who is it trying to muscle their way to the front of the line for any money available?  Why the same institution that set up this enormous scam, of course.

That’s what you get when you pass laws no one has read with policies written for and by bureaucrats and special interests, and haven’t a clue as to how any of it will work in the real world.  And no one should forget, this is all on the Democrats, who wrote it, passed it and signed it into law. Every bit of it.

And now, the institution that brought about all this failure is putting those it is supposed to serve at the back of the line for reimbursement.  Of course we’ve seen this before, haven’t we? Think GM bankruptcy and bailout.  Yeah, creditors … back of the line.

Mandy Cohen, CMS’s chief operating officer, was the first Obama administration official to assert the federal government would preempt reimbursements to local or state medical providers. She did so during a Feb. 25, 2016, House oversight subcommittee hearing on health care.

“For federal loans, there is an order of repayment,” Cohen said. “I believe we are at the very top of all of the creditors.”

Well, except for a little thing like the Supreme Court saying the opposite:

Cohen’s testimony also puts CMS on the record as ignoring a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court verdict that held the federal government is next-to-last in line for payment in insurance cases and policyholders are first. Cohen claimed the Justice Department will enforce the CMS policy.

Same bullying government, same guy (and party) in charge.  And of course the Justice Department will enforce “CMS policy” even if “CMS policy” is contrary to the law, because, the law is selectively enforceable under this administration, isn’t it?

~McQ

Let’s make the US like Germany … er, Mississippi?

The “social democracy” or “democratic socialism” model that many of the left want so badly is showing it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  For instance:

Since Sweden is held up as a sort of promised land by American socialists, let’s compare it first. We find that, if it were to join the US as a state, Sweden would be poorer than all but 12 states, with a median income of $27,167.
Median residents in states like Colorado ($35,830), Massachusetts ($37,626), Virginia ($39,291), Washington ($36,343), and Utah ($36,036) have considerably higher incomes than Sweden.
With the exception of Luxembourg ($38,502), Norway ($35,528), and Switzerland ($35,083), all countries shown would fail to rank as high-income states were they to become part of the United States. In fact, most would fare worse than Mississippi, the poorest state.
Oh, my!  Say it ain’t so, Bernie!
Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, has a median income ($25,528) level below all but 9 US states. Finland ranks with Germany in this regard ($25,730), and France’s median income ($24,233) is lower than both Germany and Finland. Denmark fares better and has a median income ($27,304) below all but  13 US states.
And Mississippi? Well, when adjusted for purchasing power, we find a funny thing (heh … I couldn’t help myself):
Now that we’ve accounted for the low cost of living in Mississippi, we find that Mississippi ($26,517) is no longer the state with the lowest median income in real terms. New York ($26,152) is now the state with the lowest median income due to its very high cost of living.
More importantly, when the European countries are adjusted for purchasing power, they fare even worse:
Once purchasing power among the US states is taken into account, we find that Sweden’s median income ($27,167) is higher than only six states: Arkansas ($26,804), Louisiana ($25,643), Mississippi ($26,517), New Mexico ($26,762), New York ($26,152) and North Carolina ($26,819).
We find something similar when we look at Germany, but in Germany’s case, every single US state shows a higher median income than Germany. Germany’s median income is $25,528. Things look even worse for the United Kingdom which has a median income of $21,033, compared to $26,517 in Mississippi.
So? So, myth busted.  If you want everyone to be the equal of  … well, now, New York … just listen to the siren song of social democracy. High taxes, marginal benefits and low purchasing power.  When you can’t even point to them being better than Mississippi in terms of median income, maybe it would be better not to hold up European social democracies as something to “strive” to be like.
~McQ

Stray Voltage

Power Line calls it “Desperately Seeking Islamaphobia“.  Seems there was a burglary at a mosque there this week.  And oh my goodness, it had to be a result of “Islamaphobia”, because, you know, CAIR shilled for it to be considered as such:

A burglary this week at a Minneapolis Islamic center prompted the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to issue a statement of concern Friday.

Jaylani Hussein, director of CAIR-MN, said surveillance video captured images of a man breaking into the Umatul Islam Center on Lake Street and 2nd Avenue S. between 11 p.m. and midnight Wednesday.

[…]
He said the break-in is the first major incident involving a mosque in the Twin Cities since comments made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump touched off a wave of anti-Muslim commentary and some incidents of harassment nationwide.

Overreaction time!

Gov. Mark Dayton met with about two dozen Muslim community leaders and imams Sunday morning at the Umatul Islam Center in south Minneapolis and commiserated with them about a break-in and vandalism at the mosque last Wednesday.

And the Gov even held a press conference. Turns out it was a well known burger who randomly targeted the mosque.

Meanwhile, in other Twin City news (Mar 1):

Computer equipment, electronics and musical instruments known as “Singing Bowls” were stolen from two Minneapolis churches on the night of March 1, prompting a warning from police for religious institutions.

And no, the Governor didn’t show up to console the Christian leaders at these churches or hold a press conference to condemn them, because  …. ?

Meanwhile, “The New Red Guard” has found another unreliable sort. This one was so bad she screwed up in her “self-criticism” session:

We students in the class began discussing possible ways to bring these issues up in our classes when COMS 930 instructor Dr. Andrea Quenette abruptly interjected with deeply disturbing remarks. Those remarks began with her admitted lack of knowledge of how to talk about racism with her students because she is white. “As a white woman I just never have seen the racism… It’s not like I see ‘Nigger’ spray-painted on walls…” she said.

That’s what you get on campus now when you try to discuss any topic The New Red Guard (in this case, at KU) deems taboo or you use a taboo word even as you are describing your “white privilege” and didn’t aim it at anyone.  Their answer is to purge the offender.  So they’re boycotting her class.  But, as usual, there is probably a much simpler reason – bad grades.  And Dr. Quenette had the temerity to point out that perhaps some of those people of color weren’t dropping out because of “racism” but instead of bad grades:

This statement reinforces several negative ideas: that violence against students of color is only physical, that students of color are less academically inclined and able, and that structural and institutional cultures, policies, and support systems have no role in shaping academic outcomes. Dr. Quenette’s discourse was uncomfortable, unhelpful, and blatantly discriminatory.

Or said another way, the spoiled children didn’t like being confronted with an uncomfortable truth.  And they want their participation trophy … now!

On another SJW front, the University of Pittsburg is still recovering from having to endure a visit by a  … conservative!

The University of Pittsburgh’s Student Government Board held a public meeting on Tuesday to discuss the traumatizing visit the night before from “dangerous” homosexual and Breitbart Tech Editor Milo Yiannopoulos, during which students described themselves as feeling “hurt” and “unsafe.”

Now don’t forget the most important thing about this event. It was a non-compulsory and extracurricular event featuring a gay journalist expressing a difference of opinion from the mainstream at the college.

Yeah, that was it. Read the whole thing to see how badly traumatized these special social flowers were because of it and how the whole earth, or at least much of Pitt, is being moved to accommodate this “hurt”.  Simply amazing.

Hey Bernie, how you going to pay for all that “free” stuff?

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has proposed $15.3 trillion in tax increases, according to a new report, and would raise rates on virtually everyone, including the politically all-important middle class.

Not surprisingly for a candidate who has made income inequality his central issue, Sanders’s plan would wallop the rich, an analysis released Friday by the Tax Policy Center shows.

[…]

But Sanders, going where few politicians dare, would also raise taxes on middle- and low-income families, with those in the dead center of the income spectrum facing a $4,700 tax increase. That would reduce their after-tax incomes by 8.5 percent, the report said.

Wait!  I thought you said it would be “free” for me!?

Hey, guess what?  He lied.

And, finally, the one silver lining if there is ever a Trump presidency?  Miley Cyrus will leave the US:

“We’re all just f—ing jam between his rich ass toes!” she wrote. “Honestly f— this s— I am moving if this is my president! I don’t say things I don’t mean!”

Hmmm … almost makes one reconsider, huh?  Yeah, but I’ll only reconsider if she takes Kanye West, the Kardashians and Rosie O’Donnell with her.

Have a great weekend!

~McQ

Dilemma

Thomas Sowell observes:

The “Super Tuesday” primaries may be a turning point for America — and quite possibly a turn for the worse. After seven long years of domestic disasters and increasing international dangers, the next President of the United States will need extraordinary wisdom, maturity, depth of knowledge and personal character to rescue America.

Instead, if the polls are an indication, what we may get is someone with the opposite of all these things, a glib egomaniac with a checkered record in business and no track record at all in government — Donald Trump.

If so, the downward trajectory of America over the past seven years may well continue on into the future, to the point of no return.

Donald Trump is the wrong guy at the right time (much like Obama in 2008) and that, at least to me, is what is so dangerous about this manifestation of anger that is suddenly sweeping the country, at least on the right.  We get another 4 years, at least, of incoherence and dangerous ineptness.  About the only hilarity would be the Republicans initiating impeachment proceedings on a “Republican” president … and I could actually see that happening.  So watch who Trump names as VP if he’s the nominee. By the way, I’m fine with the anger and like the movement, just not happy with the choice of “candidate” to represent it.

Not that the alternative is any better.  If you want a high level grifter in the White House,  Clinton fills the bill.  In Clinton’s case it’s influence peddling among many other things:

In June 2009, Clinton emailed Neera Tanden, a former Clinton campaign operative, then a top aide to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and now the president of the Center for American Progress.

Clinton wanted Tanden to arrange a meeting between three doctors and Nancy Ann DeParle, the White House official leading its health care reform efforts.

“I can arrange it, no worries,” Tanden assured her. “I know Dean Ornish from the Obama campaign,” Tanden said, referring to one of the trio.

Ornish is a high-dollar Democratic donor. According to federal campaign finance records, he’s given more than $700,000 to Democratic campaigns, party organs, and outside groups since the 1990s.

His organization, the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, previously received $3.5 million in earmarks courtesy of then-House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), one of the recipients of his political contributions.

Ornish has donated to both of Clinton’s presidential campaigns, and co-hosted a fundraiser for the campaign in 2007. He is also a high-dollar donor to the Clinton Foundation, having given between $100,000 and $250,000, according to the Foundation’s website.

Tanden apparently arranged the meeting between Ornish and DeParle. “Thanks for following thru,” Clinton wrote five days later.

We’ll be back to selling the Lincoln bedroom, and why not?  They got away with it the last time.

What’s interesting is not that the two probable choices are so awful and are likely to do irreparable harm, but that on the right, there’s an open revolution going on and on the left it is the blessing and intrenchment of machine politics designed to “win” at any cost and certainly ignoring any moral problems with their candidate.  The right is so mad they’ll take anyone who spits in the establishment’s face and the left is committed to fixing the establishment even more firmly in Washington DC.

~McQ

Summing up the state of America

Zero Hedge sums up both the “Super Tuesday” results and the broader political and policy situation in the US very well:

Negative interest rates. The war on cash. More quantitative easing. Monetary policy described as a “helicopter drop”. An avowed socialist running for President – and competing well. Another candidate under investigation by the FBI for mishandling classified information. A debate that featured a candidate begging for someone to attack him so he could get some air time. One candidate accusing another of stealing from the party and calling another a liar. The closed captioning for most of the debate reading “unintelligible yelling”. An accomplished, serious-minded governor getting drowned out by three buffoons competing to see who can get the biggest guffaws from a crowd that makes the audience at a professional wrestling match look reserved and intellectual.

It’s getting weird and the market is having a tough time figuring out what to take seriously, what to ignore, what to laugh nervously about and what to just laugh at. Are we really about to put up our very own American version of Silvio Berlusconi as the Presidential candidate of a formerly serious political party? Is the other party really having a competitive race with one candidate running on an overtly socialist agenda that is barely distinguishable from his opponent’s? Who doesn’t claim to be a socialist? Are central banks actually considering pushing interest rates more negative after getting basically no positive response from the initial push below the previously sacrosanct zero bound? Has the Federal Reserve actually told banks to prepare for negative interest rates here in the US right after raising rates for the first time in years? Are serious economists actually have a debate about whether it is a good idea to just print up cash and pass it out? Is that really monetary policy? Are governments really talking about banning actual currency, the very money created by that government? Money that depends, oh by the way, solely on people’s trust that the government will stand behind the money they are about to outlaw? Has everyone lost their freaking minds?

My sentiments to a tee.  This is probably the most awful domestic political climate I’ve seen in my lifetime.  I’ve can’t remember having such a horrible “choice” before.  And for me, there really isn’t a choice given who is likely to win on either side.

Yes, there’s anger out there on both sides toward the political establishment.  They took a great country and have run it into the ditch.  Got it and agree with the anger.  But what this is boiling down to is the white version of Obama and a crook that makes Nixon look like an altar boy in comparison.  The voting public obviously wants some sort of political change but it also seems to be demanding change that will make a bad situation worse.

The pregnant question is “how did we get here?”  The Republican party obviously got here by a fairly conventional route – promise them anything to get elected and then, basically, ignore them.  The “them” being the GOP faithful.  So how did Trump become the answer, unless you’re a low information voter who is content to let a more unstable version of the current resident of the White House call the shots? How can anyone spend anytime researching the guy and come away with a positive feeling about what he’d do if he were in the Oval Office?  I’m sorry, but this bombastic political chameleon, who has duped and used people his whole life, will be as large if not a larger disaster than Obama has been.

And as for the crook on the other side, if anyone wants to firmly establish corruption at the highest levels of the country just to say we have a “woman president”, then you deserve to be horsewhipped.  Machine politics will survive and become even more pervasive and controlling.  Is this what everyone wants?   The Democrats are sliding hard left.  Sanders is popular because he too has a vast support group that is willfully (or not) ignorant and wants “free” stuff.

For goodness sake this is about what is best for the country, not some ideological check mark.  Certainly a woman should be our chief executive at some time.  But Clinton?  As a whole, those who voted for Obama willfully ignored the glaring and obvious reasons not to elect him to make sure the race check mark was made.  And what did it give us?  The worst president in my lifetime.  Now, it seems, the voting public is going to double down and make him the second worst president in my lifetime regardless of who wins in November.

 

“The main problem in any democracy is that crowd-pleasers are generally brainless swine who can go out on a stage & whup their supporters into an orgiastic frenzy—then go back to the office & sell every one of the poor bastards down the tube for a nickel apiece.” – Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72

That’s where we’re headed.  Those that want to see it “all burn down” may be in the middle of seeing just that.

~McQ

The useless and predatory UN

Useless you say?  How is it “useless”?

Well there are a myriad of things one could point too, but perhaps the latest from the UN’s “elections”:

UN Watch instead is calling on Ban Ki-moon, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, and the EU’s UN ambassadors to condemn the world body’s “absurd and morally obscene” election just of Syria and Venezuela to senior posts on a decolonization committee that is charged with upholding fundamental human rights in opposing the “subjugation, domination and exploitation” of peoples — a propaganda victory that—like before—is already being trumpeted by the Assad regime.

Yet the UN wants to be taken seriously as some sort of world governing body that looks out for the interests of the oppressed and the subjugated by putting members of two of the most oppressive regimes on this committee.

Uh huh.

By the way, the 17 territories still held as “colonies” are as follows:

The 17 territories still listed as colonies by the committee are American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falklands, French Polynesia, Gibraltar, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos, St. Helena, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Western Sahara.

Most of those on the list want nothing to do with disassociation with their “colonist”. In reality, this is just another in a long line of committees the UN uses for lavish boondoggles:

The committee is notorious for its habit of holding regional seminars in tropical islands—”alternately in the Caribbean and the Pacific”—at considerable expense. Madeleine K. Albright, as U.S. representative at the United Nations in the late 1990s, called these expenditures ”frivolous and unneeded.”

At the time, activities of the committee were investigated by the United Nations inspector general, Karl T. Paschke, who concluded that money was being squandered.

And, as usual, you (among many others) pay for it.

In other UN news, much more serious than the above:

“A horrible thing,” says an elfin 14-year-old girl, who describes how a Burundian soldier dragged her into his barracks and raped her, leaving her pregnant with the baby boy she now cradles uncomfortably.

The allegations come amid one of the biggest scandals to plague the United Nations in years. Since the U.N. peacekeeping mission here began in 2014, its employees have been formally accused of sexually abusing or exploiting 42 local civilians, most of them underage girls.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called sexual abuse by peacekeepers “a cancer in our system.” In August, the top U.N. official here was fired for failing to take enough action on abuse cases. Nearly 1,000 troops whose units have been tied to abuses have been expelled, or will be soon. Among them is the entire contingent from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Yes, it is a “cancer” in the UN’s “system, but the UN does nothing about it.  It certainly isn’t a new problem:

In Bosnia in the 1990s, peacekeepers were accused of soliciting sex from women who had been trafficked and virtually enslaved in local brothels. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the early 2000s, more than 150 allegations of abuse and exploitation were registered against peacekeepers, and U.N. investigators found that many of the alleged victims were orphans. U.N. missions in Kosovo, Haiti, Liberia and other places also have been tarnished by such allegations.

The UN was supposedly a noble idea whose time had come when it was first begun.  Now it has devolved into a third world debating and boondoggle club with a little rape on the side for “peacekeepers”.

If I was in one of the countries the UN has attempted to “help” and I saw a blue helmet, I’d get as far away from the person wearing it as I could.

They’re useless in a real sense, but certainly predatory if you have any females in the area … no matter how young.

~McQ

Stray Voltage

Professor Melissa Click, recently the face of the ugly left during the recent University of Missouri protests, has been notified by the Board of Curators that they’re terminating her employment there.  Click, you may remember, was charged with assault when she confronted a student reporter and grabbed his camera while calling for “some muscle” to help her force him to leave.  Interestingly, the Board of Curators also cited her actions at the Homecoming Parade a month before as grounds for dismissal as well.  You can read the whole investigation here.  So much for her tenure hearing … ain’t gonna happen.  You can read the whole investigation and the letter for the Board here.  I did last night.  Very interesting.  I can’t say she didn’t deserve what she got, and, frankly, it’s good to see bad actions ending up having consequences.  Apparently she thought and admission and apology were sufficient.  The Board did not.

Speaking of the SJWs, those at Brown University simply can’t get over the fact that they’re being required by professors to turn in class assignments on time after their activism has totally exhausted and drained them emotionally:

Liliana Sampedro, one of the students who compiled the diversity ultimatum, argued that refusal to grant such accommodations “has systemic effects on students of color,” who she said may sometimes feel obligated to prioritize their activist work over their studies.

“I remember emailing the professor and begging her to put things off another week … I hadn’t eaten. I hadn’t slept. I was exhausted, physically and emotionally,” Sampedro recalled. The professor nonetheless insisted that she submit a previously-assigned research presentation on time, which she claims forced her to stay up late to finish the project after having already spent hours working on the list of demands.

Because that’s why they went to Brown – to “prioritize their activism work over their studies”.  I know a bunch of folks at my college who “prioritized their partying over their studies” and they got no break from professors.  All kidding aside – this is our special snowflakes getting just a inkling of what is in store for them when they finally leave the protection and “safe space” that is Brown.

Some leftists/SJWs are figuring it out:

Speaking of Fascism, there is also a disturbing trend on the left nowadays that involves rejecting free speech/freedom of expression as a core value, because that speech could possibly be hurtful to someone, somewhere. This is not only dangerous but it also works against us, because as leftists we are often labelled as threats by the state and at the very least, we are unpopular by society in general. Does this not mean that freedom of thought and expression are crucial to our struggles?

Of course, at this point, not enough of them are doing so and there’s no indication that this is really a trend, however, it’s hopeful.  Read the whole thing.

Camile Paglia is a Bernie supporter, for one reason, because he is offering “free” college.  But she is not a Hillary supporter in the least.  And before she heads off on a riff about “free” college, she blasts the “establishment” Democrats in general and Hillary Clinton specifically (also taking a shot at the establishment media):

Democrats face a stark choice this year.  A vote for the scandal-plagued Hillary is a resounding ratification of business as usual–the corrupt marriage of big money and machine politics, practiced by the Clintons with the zest of Boss Tweed, the gluttonous czar of New York’s ruthless Tammany Hall in the 1870s.  What you also get with Hillary is a confused hawkish interventionism that has already dangerously destabilized North Africa and the Mideast.  This is someone who declared her candidacy on April 12, 2015 via an email and slick video and then dragged her feet on making a formal statement of her presidential policies and goals until her pollsters had slapped together a crib list of what would push the right buttons.  This isn’t leadership; it’s pandering.

Thanks to several years of the Democratic party establishment strong-arming younger candidates off the field for Hillary, the only agent for fundamental change remains Bernie Sanders, an honest and vanity-free man who has been faithful to his core progressive principles for his entire career.  It is absolutely phenomenal that Sanders has made such progress nationally against his near total blackout over the past year by the major media, including the New York Times.  That he has inspired the hope and enthusiasm of an immense number of millennial women is very encouraging.  Feminists who support Hillary for provincial gender reasons are guilty of a reactionary, reflex sexism, betraying that larger vision required for the ballot so hard-won by the suffrage movement.

While I usually don’t agree on a lot of what she says, I love the way she says it.  In this case, I’m with her about Clinton.

Speaking of “free college”,  in case you missed it, Louisiana tried that.  And, guess what?  It worked about as well as “free health care”:

A person receiving “free” tuition may not see it (or even care), but subsides actually raise the total cost of an education. The core problem is that they remove the paying customer—in this case the student—from the equation.

Without the subsidy, the paying customer receives the direct benefit for the service and bears the direct cost. If that person doesn’t think the cost is worth it, they don’t pay.

Louisiana’s program replaces this paying customer with groups of government officials. These officials neither receive the direct benefit nor endure the direct cost of obtaining an education. These groups do, however, benefit a great deal from obtaining more of your tax dollars.

And they rarely bear any direct cost from either increasing your taxes or delivering a substandard education product. (The incumbency rate is fairly high for politicians.)

Works great for government (bigger, more government jobs, more taxes) but not so hot for the taxpayer – as usual.

Socialism?  Heck yeah.  Why look at how well Venezuela is doing:

And now, the announcement of the “nutritional emergency” makes it official. Venezuela is out of food, and it’s only a matter of time before Venezuelans are quite literally starving due to a long series of terrible decisions by their leaders.

That’s right, it’s no longer about not having diapers and toilet paper.  Nope, the socialist government has run the country out of food as well.  Feel the Bern!

Peggy Noonan approaches the popularity of Trump, and for that matter, Sanders in the presidential race with a little different take.  Instead of talking about the elite, I think she makes a differentiation that better explains why those two have any political viability at all:

There are the protected and the unprotected. The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it. The unprotected are starting to push back, powerfully.

The protected are the accomplished, the secure, the successful—those who have power or access to it. They are protected from much of the roughness of the world. More to the point, they are protected from the world they have created. Again, they make public policy and have for some time.

I want to call them the elite to load the rhetorical dice, but let’s stick with the protected.

They are figures in government, politics and media. They live in nice neighborhoods, safe ones. Their families function, their kids go to good schools, they’ve got some money. All of these things tend to isolate them, or provide buffers. Some of them—in Washington it is important officials in the executive branch or on the Hill; in Brussels, significant figures in the European Union—literally have their own security details.

Because they are protected they feel they can do pretty much anything, impose any reality. They’re insulated from many of the effects of their own decisions.

One issue obviously roiling the U.S. and western Europe is immigration. It is THE issue of the moment, a real and concrete one but also a symbolic one: It stands for all the distance between governments and their citizens.

I think it gets us closer to the discontent felt by much of the country.  It has become clear that the “protected” are feathering their nests at the expense of the unprotected and, as Noonan says, will never suffer the effects of their policies because they’ve protected themselves from such an occurrence – or at least tried to.  Yes, it’s a bit oversimplified.  There’s much more going on, but it helps explain what no one has satisfactorily explained to this point.

On the other hand, I can’t help feeling I’m living in Weimar Germany.

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Hope everyone has a great weekend!

~McQ

Watching Twitter’s self destruction

And enjoying it (frankly, I’ve never been a fan of Twitter).

First and foremost I want to make it clear that Twitter’s decision to shadow ban and outright ban certain users has absolutely nothing to do with the right to free speech.  It’s a private company and they can ban and shadow ban anyone they want too.  Of course, being a private company and depending on “customers” they can screw the pooch anytime they want to as well, and that’s what they are in the middle of doing.

I say, “more power too them”.  They have to compete in a market with alternatives, unlike government, and they have to suffer the consequences of their decisions … also, for the most part, unlike government.

So, yeah, they’re not allowing certain conservative users to post on Twitter anymore.

Cool.  It’s not like Twitter didn’t have enough problems before this decision to monitor and ban users for arbitrary and biased reasons.  They were already under pressure to find a way to stop the declining numbers of users.

And their reaction?  Well, let’s put a “Trust and Safety Council” together to monitor what users say.  Oh, and let’s put a harpy from the extreme left wing of the political spectrum in charge and let her decide who can and can’t say “controversial things”.

How Orwellian can one get?  Well, the degree is still up for debate, but the hypocrisy isn’t.  Here’s Biz Stone, a Twitter co-founder in 2011:

[F]reedom of expression is essential. Some Tweets may facilitate positive change in a repressed country, some make us laugh, some make us think, some downright anger a vast majority of users. We don’t always agree with the things people choose to tweet, but we keep the information flowing irrespective of any view we may have about the content.

Except for now, when Twitter has decided that its “view” (or at least that of the “Truth and Safety Council”) is more important than the content.

Well done, Twitter.  You deserve everything you are now suffering.  It was all brought about by your policies and the decision that your customers weren’t the most important thing to your company.

That’s the beauty of markets.  They will speak.  And Twitter is presently being spoken too … harshly.

~McQ

Foreign affairs – How bad is it?

This bad:

Secretary of State Kerry worked for three months to get the warring parties to a negotiating table under the auspices of the United Nations — moderate rebels, representatives of the regime, Iranians, Saudi Arabians and Russians. But Moscow then turned around and launched its offensive right as the talks began. Within 48 hours, the Russian air force carried out 320 airstrikes in northern Syria alone. It was no coincidence that the storm on Aleppo began at that exact moment. The aim was that of destroying any possibility that the opposition would have a say in Syria’s future.

Yes, that’s right, the Russians had no intention of working within the process and were simply setting up an opportunity to embarrass the United States.

I know, you’re shocked, aren’t you?

Secretary of State John Kerry conceded that his much-touted ceasefire in Syria, set to take effect Saturday, “may be” little more than what a Democratic senator called a “rope-a-dope deal.”

With Washington as the dope.

“I’m not going to vouch for this,” said Kerry. With good reason: It doesn’t cover ISIS, the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and other terrorist groups — nor anyone who cares to fire at them. For months, Russia’s been bombing anyone it wants to while claiming to be targeting ISIS.

One off?  Hardly:

In a move likely to further increase already volatile tensions in the region, China has deployed fighter jets to a contested island in the South China Sea, the same island where China deployed surface-to-air missiles last week, two U.S. officials tell Fox News.

The dramatic escalation came as Secretary of State John Kerry hosted his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, at the State Department.

It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so dangerous.  The disrespect toward Kerry is much deserved, but it is primarily being shown to Obama. Kerry is just the proxy.  These two states, among many others, simply have no respect or fear of Obama.  None.  And while they’ll play the diplomatic game, they’re two realpolitik states.  When the former leader of the West shows weakness, they exploit it.  Kerry just is the guy they choose to embarrass directly.

Oh, and speaking of ISIS, have you been monitoring its growth in Libya?  You know Libya, the other foreign policy triumph of the Obama administration.  Different Secretary of State, same disastrous result.  And what is Obama doing?  Well he’s considering a solution much like his Syrian solution.  No boots on the ground and train some “good guys” to oppose ISIS.

So what does that tell adversaries?  A) He hasn’t a clue.  He’s in the middle of doubling down on failure.  B) He will not commit to the effective use of American force.  Yeah he may throw a few cruise missiles and air strikes at the place, but he really doesn’t plan to do much.  And C) he’s the lamest of lame ducks and will likely do what he’s done for 7 years if either China or Russia act aggressively – talk big and carry no stick.

Where does that leave this situation?

The Russians made clear that they were also coming in to help deal with the threat of the so-called Islamic State in Syria. It soon became apparent, however, that the Russian targeting strategy was less concerned with ISIS than tilting the balance of the civil war in favor of Assad and that Russian forces are now using tanks to target rebel strongholds in and around Aleppo.

Saudi Arabia has now moved fighter jets to Turkey with the aim of carrying out strikes inside Syria and has agreed to deploy special forces coming into Syria via Turkey.

Turkey is making it clearer by the day that it may feel it necessary to move from shelling mainly Kurdish positions inside Syria to moving troops and tanks into Syria. Meanwhile, concerns are being raised about Turkey invoking Article 5 of the NATO treaty, if Turkish forces were to be attacked by Russia or Syria.

NATO has every right to advise caution on Turkey, its fellow NATO member. But in these circumstances, following the Russian intervention — now that its full nature is revealed — it is very hard to argue that that it is not unreasonable for both Saudi Arabia and Turkey to contemplate such action.

NATO needs to establish two clear positions:

  1. That it will not become embroiled as an alliance in fighting on the ground in Syria.

  2. It will, however, respond to any attack that threatens the territorial integrity of Turkey.

Most people who know anything know that as the US goes, so goes NATO.

Anyone – do you really believe the so-called “commander-in-chief” would heed Turkey’s invocation of Article 5 and confront the Russians?

Two days before Christmas, as American policymakers were settling into the holidays, Russia quietly signed a sweeping air defense agreement with Armenia, accelerating a growing Russian military buildup that has unfolded largely under the radar. It was the most tangible sign yet that Putin is creating a new satellite state on NATO’s border and threatening an indispensable U.S. ally.

The buildup in Armenia has been glossed over in Washington, despite being a key piece of Vladimir Putin’s plan to dominate the region — along with its proxy Syria and growing military ties with Iran. Most importantly, Armenia shares an approximately 165 mile border with Turkey, a NATO member and the alliance’s southern flank. 

And now Russia has 8,500 military personnel, 600 artillery pieces, 200 warplanes and 50 warships in the area.

Does that smell like “fear” to anyone?

If so, it’s probably emanating from DC.

~McQ